September 2008


click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

This is a meme for which Craver Vii tagged me.  He said I did not have to do it, but I decided I would. Some people think I am not the type to like memes (because I think a lot of people do not like them), but I like some of them.  Probably because it is just a chance to ramble about myself, but there were a couple of things I have wanted to talk about anyway in this meme. 

Craver Vii’s post on this is here.  (Go check it out and tell him Congratulations.  When linking I just noticed that he’s going to be a Grandpa!)  And he got the meme from here

These are the meme rules:

  1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
  2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
  3. Link back to the parent post, so she can track the meme.
  4. Tag a few friends or five, or none at all.
  5. Post these rules– or just have fun breaking them.

I like those rules because like with awards (I will get to the ones that I have not acknowledged yet early next week, I promise!), I will make up my own rules and you may do the same if you decide to participate.    I am actually going to follow all these rules since they are so lax!  As for tagging, I am tagging anyone who wants to do this.  If you think this would make a good post for you, please do it! 

OK, without further preliminary rambling:

.5 Ways Blogging Has Affected My Life

  1. Country Music.  I was raised on Country Music.  I never heard anything other than Country and Country Gospel until I was probably in 7th grade at school.  Wait, that is not true.  I heard other types of music in earlier years when I was in the carpool on the way to and from school, but I never liked the drivers and therefore never bothered to care about what was on their radios.  I mostly remember the talk radio which bored me to tears as an elementry school student.  But my parents listened to Country Music.  I liked it because I knew nothing else, but I never loved it.  When I was introduced to other music (Rock, then Classical, then Celtic and others), I put Country Music behind me forever, at least I thought.  I did not save one single 45, cassette or anything else.  I threw it all in the trash and moved on.  I came to loathe Country Music.  I liked almost anything except for Country Music. (OK, I never really cared for rap or super heavy metal, but most anything else I could tolerate.)  I liked Mountain Music and Bluegrass, but not Country.  Enter blogging.  Obviously lots of blogs have music on them.  And a lot of times I do not really like it because to me it detracts from the photography or writing.  Not always (definitely not always–sometimes it adds), but often.  But there are two blogs I frequent with Country Music on them.  One is Fishing Guy and the other is At Home With the Farmer’s  Wife.  I have decided that not only can I tolerate the Country Music on their blogs, but I kind of like it.  I am not really sure why.  I think it probably has to do with the other content on their blogs.  They depict things that I long for–usually country scenes or country life.  I would have never believed that blogging for three months would make me like Country Music.  No evils smirks from Thursday Drive and ReluctantFarmChick, please!  (I am not rushing to iTunes to download any, but my taste for music is being altered.) (And I hope Prince Charming wants to stay married after he reads this.)
  2. My love for photography has increased since blogging.  I have loved photography for a long time, but not like I do now.  Now I remember to take my camera with me almost all of the time.  Now I take way more pictures than I ever have because I “just might” be able to use them in a post someday!  The critics may disagree, but I think I am already taking better pictures.  Or many more OF the pictures are good (better percentage).  Or maybe I am just taking so many pictures that I have to have more good ones.  Then there is the whole “lens envy” thing.  I am not a covetous person, but when I see wildlife shots and bird shots like are found at A “Focus” In the Wild  (whose music I love, by the way) and Virtua Gallery and bug shots like at Nature in the Ozarks and Lisa’s Chaos, I want more and bigger and different lenses.  It is going to be an ongoing problem, I can tell.
  3. The community of the blogosphere is amazing to me.  I would have never guessed that in such a short time there would be people in so many places I would be happy to meet.  I love traveling, and though finances do not allow me to travel as much as I would like, both Prince Charming and I do not hesistate to travel when possible.  There are people in so many places of the world that I would not hesistate to look up if we were traveling near them.  I would love to name everyone here that is intriguing to me and I would like to someday meet, but I would be here linking for a week.  I will just name three that are in very different places:  Maria in Greece, Chrome 3D in Finland and Fish Whisperer in Fiji.  I love the connections I have made with all of you who read this.
  4. My girls, ages 4 and 6, know quite a bit about blogging and have taken even more notice than before of the beauty around them because I am taking more pictures.  One day Chic saw her picture on the computer screen and asked, “Did you blog about me?”  I loved that.  One week in church on the screen with texts on it there was a pretty picture of the sky and Chic said, “That would make a great SkyWatch photo!”  Both Chicklet and Chic are continually pointing out the beauty around me.  This morning Chicklet noticed the pale moon setting over the volcanoes, and just five minutes ago Chic bounded out of her bedroom to tell us, “The moon is beautiful.”  It was.  It is coming up as a yellow giant orb over the mountains.
  5. The last way I will mention that blogging has affected me is that I am more sleep-deprived than I have ever been.  I need a lot of sleep.  I never get enough sleep. But it is worse now.  There is always “just one more” blog to read in my Google reader or “just ten more” SkyWatch’s at which to look.   Or “just three more” comments needing response.  I cannot believe how late I stay up to do this sometimes.  (Neither can Prince Charming.) 

There you have it.  How has blogging affected your life?  Good or bad?  Let me know in the comments, or do your own post!

This post is in response to a prompt from Kelly at *Weekly Anamnesis.*  I like Kelly’s word prompts to help me think of something to write.  She is not picky about when someone uses a word.  It can be an old word, which I have used before.  But today I am using “Smoke” which is actually this week’s word. Anyone is welcome to use her prompts.  Just go there and follow the instructions. I love to see what different people write about the same word prompt.

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June 18, 1980. 

No photo. I made this with stamping supplies.

My mother and I had spent the day “hauling Jo.”  That is what my mother used to call it. 

When I was less than a year old, my parents moved from a rented house in the country to a tiny rented house in the city. It was in the not-so-nice part of the city, but in 1966, it wasn’t that bad.  Very soon after moving they met their across-the-street neighbors, Jo and Roy.  They were a childless couple that were old enough to be my grandparents.  Their house had been in the country when they had built it who-knows-how-many-years ago, and it was the nicest house in the area.  They were also the nicest people.  They became family to us.  Jo made every single birthday cake of mine from age 1 through age 30.  (And for my brother through his 29th birthday.)  We moved away when I was six, but always kept contact with Jo and Roy.  Roy passed away in my late elementary school years, and after that my mother “took care of” Jo.  Jo never learned to drive, so my mother took her to the grocery store and the beauty parlor and to lunch every week.  Every. single. week.  That is what “hauling Jo” was.  It was not a negative thing; that was just the way my mother phrased things sometimes. 

So it being summer, I had gone along on the weekly excursion.  It is possible my brother was with us, but I do not remember him at all in this story.  And I did not always go on these outings with my mother, but my 15th birthday had been the previous week, so I went if for no other reason than to return the plate on which my cake had been and give Jo special thanks for it.

The day had a specific routine.  We would go to Jo’s house (still in the same place as my childhood) and chat with her for a while. Then we would take her to the beauty shop and leave her for about 1-1/2 hours while my mother and I ran other errands.  We would return to pick up Jo and go to lunch.  We always ate at a cafeteria in town.  We always sat at the same table.  Then it was off to the grocery store.  This was the part I liked the least because grocery stores were always so cold.  Groceries packed in, we would take Jo home and unload the groceries for her, then help her put them away.  Then more chatting.  This second chatting session could last for HOURS if we did not find a way to excuse ourselves.  Jo had not had the happiest of lives, and she was lonely and old now, and she loved to talk. 

On this day, I do not remember how long we stayed, but I remember it being a long time.  And I remember the phone ringing.  It was the old kind that really “rang” and had a dial on it.  It rang several times.  She never answered it.  She was talking with us, and she had no reason to think the phone ringing was more important than the time she was spending with us. 

We finally headed home.  It probably pleased my mother we were so late because it left no time for her to make dinner.  She hated cooking and pretty much all things domestic.  We would be eating out that night.

As we drove south toward home (about a 25-minute drive), we were nearing the edge of the “big” city when we saw a giant plume of coal black smoke towering ahead of us.  It looked as if it were in the next town, which is where we lived, though our house was not “in” town.  I remember wondering what could be burning to create such a tall pillar of smoke and so black.  We drove on, probably trying to decide where we would go to eat when my dad got home.

As we got near to where we lived, the smoke was still a giant ahead of us, but it was clear it was not in our neighborhood.  We still wondered about it, but not enough to be concerned.  As we got to our driveway, we saw a lot of cars parked in our yard.  We saw people outside the cars milling around and talking to one another.  That seemed strange.  Very strange.  We wondered if something was wrong.  Mom carefully maneuvered the car to where to in front of the garage and got out.  My grandmother, who had an unattractive flare for drama, raced up to the car as my mother opened her door.  She wanted to know if we were OK.  Why wouldn’t we be?  I am sure I was rolling my eyes where no one could see me.  She then chastised my mother because we had spent so much time at Jo’s and complained that she had “called and called” but no one at Jo’s answered the phone.

Then everyone was there at once.  To me it was only confusion, but they wanted to greet us to tell us the news before we heard it on “the news.”  That plume of smoke we had seen was a local manufacturing facility.  It was the place that my father had worked since 1969 and in which he had purchased ownership not long after that.  That smoke was coming from a company, OUR company.  It was our lifeblood. It was burning, and by the looks of it, there was not going to be anything left.

I remember going inside to watch television.  The news coverage was unbelievable.  (Really, it was like news coverage usually is.  Dramatic.  Maybe my grandmother should have been a journalist.)  The news was saying that there were poisonous chemicals being burned and released into the air and that people should evacuate.  I had grown up with this company.  I remember being four-years-old and sitting in a corner of the then small manufacturing floor while my dad worked because there was too much to do for him to go home, and my mother was working at the hospital as a nurse.  I knew there were no poisonous chemicals.  Then I saw my dad on television.  He looked like I had never seen him before.  He was shaken.  My dad was strong.  He was never shaken.  I heard the words “total loss.”  I heard the word “rebuild.” 

My mother politely thanked everyone for coming, but sent them home.  We had to go find my dad.  He needed us.  My dramatic grandmother said she should drive because my mother was too excited to do so herself.  Thankfully, my mother declined. 

When we got there, the smoke was not the giant plume anymore, but it would be days before it was all gone.  There were giant steel beams lying in twisted heaps on the cement floor.  The destruction was complete.  I do not think I had ever been so afraid in my life.  When I was little, our family was poor. We were no longer poor, but we certainly were not “rich,” either.  I was 15.  I was supposed to go away to a parochial boarding school that fall.  I knew right then that it may not happen.  My father’s business was completely gone.  Only twisted metal and some smoke remained.  How could he afford to send me to school?  And we were getting ready to move.  Would we still be able to afford the house with ten acres? 

Before that summer I remember seeing my dad cry one time–when his mother died.  When we got home that night (I do not even remember what we ate for dinner, if we ate at all), my dad cried.  If I had been frightened before, I REALLY was then.  As horrible as all this was for me, I could not imagine how much worse for him.  He was only part-owner of the business, but it was his life.  It was OUR life.  He had been the one who worked day and night to build it to its present success.  It was all gone.  Up in smoke.

I spent the rest of that summer in a motor home parked on a concrete pad at the site of the fire while they were rebuilding.  The office staff had moved into the offices of another building, but someone had to answer the phone at the building site.  My dad said I would do it. I had “worked” for the company almost as long as I could remember.  And most of it had been gratis, as was this, so I did not mind.  There were no speakers or intercom systems, so when someone had a call, I had to trudge through the debris and building to find people.  Being a somewhat prissy Girly Girl, I was always wearing clothes fit for an office, not a building site.  The heels probably were not a good idea.  There was an IBM electric typewriter in the motor home.  I found my mother’s old high school typing book and taught myself to type that summer.  That turned out to be a mistake because in typing class that autumn (at the boarding school), I had a manual typewriter.  Though I eventually got to 93 words per minute on the manual, I cried in private the first two weeks at school because after using the electric, it was so painful to push the pinky keys on the manual.

By summer’s end, there was a place in the new building for the office staff, so I was no longer needed.  My uncle (another owner of the company) gave me $100 for my working there all summer.  I was shocked. And elated.  I used it carefully to buy my wardrobe for the next school year.  No one has ever made $100 stretch any further!

Today when I see smoke, I am transported immediately back to that day.  But it is rare to see such black smoke.  More frequently I see brown smoke.  That is a sickening site as well, because it usually means a house is burning.  I have seen that three times since living here fore six years.  When it is white smoke, the water has gotten most of the fire out.  But no matter what color the smoke, when I see it, my heart freezes, then it aches for the people whose lives the smoke is affecting.

“Our” fire turned out OK.  Not one person was killed or injured in the fire. The company had another plant, and they had saved most of the molds.  They did not miss one shipment of goods while waiting for the new plant to be built.  They built a bigger and better facility.  Every time I see smoke, I hope that the people involved have as good an ending to the tragedy as we had.

 
click on photo to enlarge
click on photo to enlarge

This is part of the Sandia Mountains.  In yesterday’s post, I referred to them as being in the picture, and several people said something to me about them. Hence, this post.  It is one I have been meaning to do, but if you read here regularly, you realize that meaning to do a post has nothing to do with that actually getting it into the computer.

So why are they called the “Sandia Mountains?”  Well, the origin is somewhat interesting.  When we were house hunting here, our realtor explained it to us.  Although she was wonderful and had my complete trust, I had to look it up to be certain the story was true.  It was.  Apparently “Sandia” is the Spanish word for “watermelon.”  That seems to be a bit of an odd name for a mountain range, unless you have been here at sunset, looking at the mountains.  At sunset the mountains turn watermelon pink, and they are quite beautiful.  It does not happen every day.  A lot of it depends on the clouds or lack of clouds, but the watermelon color does come often, and it is quite a treat.

The top picture was taken at sunset from my back yard. (Sorry for all the house tops.  That is where I most commonly am when I see sunrises and sunsets.)  It was an incredible sunset, and there was even a rainbow in it for a while.  (Not shown.)  The picture is definitely worth enlarging.

The following picture was taken during the same sunset as this.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

When I see this view of the Sandias, I see all the glittering windows in the city.  It reminds me of a story I heard as a child about a boy who longingly looked over the valley at a house with golden windows and wished he could live in such a house.  One day he visited, and found that the house did not have golden windows, but was shown a house that did.  It was his own.  One version of the story is here if you want to read it.  I do not know why, but I have always loved that story.  I did not really relate to it because I never remember envying anyone else’s house, even as a child.  (Even though we were poor!)  Whatever the reason, I loved the story, and I still do.  And now, since living in this place with enchanted skies, I have illustrations for it.  The picture is definitely worth enlarging.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

This photo was taken two years ago, but it was at the same time of year, and today looks exactly the same, so that is why it is here.  I have always liked this picture, and since today I cannot go somewhere to get a good view of our overcast skies, this one is my choice.

Chic is in the photo, and it was taken in part of the Petroglyph National Monument which is less than five miles from my house.  This portion of it has several extinct volcanoes, and is quite a nice hiking area.  Chic is standing on top of one of the volcanoes overlooking the desert and city below.  The mountain in the distance is part of the Sandia Mountains, but is somewhat obscured by the clouds.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.

letterboxing bag

letterboxing bag

Seems like lately I am starting my posts with something other than the title suggests, but I’ll get to that.

After my last post someone asked if I would show the supplies we take with us when hunting for letterboxes.  So that is what you see above.  We put it all in the orange bag so it is easy to carry (and also fits an extra camera lens).  The two ink pads leaning against the bag are the ones Prince Charming and I  use for our personal stamps.  (You can click on the photo to enlarge it.) My personal stamp is standing up, with the frog on it (Potted Frog).  Prince Charming’s has the rubber side up.  The plastic bag on the upper right is wet paper towels to clean the stamps when we are finished at a box.  Below that is a pile of log books.  Mine is open to show a page (true letterboxers are probably gasping at that.  So many on one page!  I’m just like that; I can’t help it!)  We just use sketch pads for our logbooks right now (and Chic and Chicklet’s are decorated so there will NEVER be a question as to who owns which!)  Lots of people use very nice hardcover journals, but I have not wanted to splurge in that area, although stamping in them might be a tiny bit easier.  And you can see the stamps are not “girly.”  Men can get into this as much as women!  To the left of the logbooks is the compass.  Not all boxes have clues with compass headings, but some do, and sometimes it is necessary to have one.  To the left of the compass are the markers we use for the letterbox stamps.  I like having several colors because one never knows what kind of stamp will be in the box.  Often they are nature-related which are typically browns, greens and greys, but they can be anything, so I like to have plenty of ink colors.  We color on the stamps with the markers so we can have more than one color on the stamp if we wish.  I love using the markers for letterboxing. If I had that many colors of ink pads it would be more expensive, heavier and take up more space.  No, you can’t use just any markers, but there are markers made for rubber stamps.

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Tonight I am having a Stamp-A-Stack at my house.  Monthly I have some sort of stamping class at my house, and for September, it is a Stamp-A-Stack.  For ME that means that guests (customers) will come and stamp 15 cards.  There are five designs, and they will make three of each design.  This is probably my most popular type of class because often when people make a card (or whatever we stamp), they like to keep it for a particular reason (have the idea for future reference, too pretty to give away, etc.).  But with a Stamp-A-Stack, they go home with THREE cards of the SAME design, so they can keep one and give two away!  (Or for the more practical ones, they can give three away.)

When people arrive they will receive a bag with all of their cardstock supplies.   These will be cut for each project.  Guests love coming to my house for these classes because I do all the prep work for them. 

Then guests will split up and go to different areas staged for each card.  There are supposed to be 11 guests tonight, and there are five cards to make, so there will be two or three people at each station at a time.  (Most of the photos in this post will enlarge when clicked.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an up-close look at what they will be making.  Do you love them?  I copied (in great or small degrees) all of them but one.  I wonder if you can guess which one is original?  Probably not, unless you know me fairly well.  I am sure some of the customers will guess.

Are you wondering where the fifth card is?  It was a straight-copy, so you can just look here to see it up close. (While you’re there, you might want to look at some of her other stuff.  She’s an amazing stamper.)  And while I am talking about that, one of the cards I mostly copied from here.  She has some awesome stuff, too.

So that is what I will be doing when this post goes up.  And in case you think I am too on-the-ball that this stuff is already set up, well….  I have to leave in ten minutes to pick up Chic from school.  Then we have to run some errands.  Then she has gymnastics.  I will get home 30 minutes before this class starts, so everything has to be ready before I leave.  And I wanted to post today, but obviously the class had to come first, so I had to get it done and set up.  If I did not have all the other stuff to do, I promise that I would not be set up until 6:20ish.

I hope YOU are doing something fun tonight, too!

Before I get to the letterboxing, I have to tell you about a recipe I tried this weekend that I got from Heidi at Foxgloves, Fabric and Folly.  I made it for the picnic lunch at our church campout, and it was an enormous hit.  When I told Heidi I was going to use the recipe, I mentioned that I have a reputation to uphold–EVERYONE raves about my cooking, and I wanted to make sure it was that kind of recipe.  She assured me it was, and she was right!  Go here and get the recipe and make it!  It is called Apple Cake Doris, and it’s heavenly!  (She has a beautiful picture there, so I didn’t bother.)

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click to enlarge

Now about letterboxing.  After mentioning it in my last post, I had quite a few comments about it, so I decided to do this long overdue post.  (It is overdue because when I was thinking about starting a blog, Prince Charming suggested my first post be about letterboxing because it encompasses so many of my interests and loves.  I was really going to do that, but the blog started on a whim, and I just wrote whatever my whim was that day.)

First, I will explain letterboxing a little.  It began a very long time ago in Dartmoor, England.  I learned about it when my cousin sent me an article that had originally been published in Smithsonian Magazine.  It totally clicked with me, but my life just did not go in the direction it needed in order for me to get started.  Five years later I learned Prince Charming and I were going to be doing a little international travel, so we decided we better get serious about letterboxing so we could do it on our trips.  At the last minute, one of those trips dematerialized, but we did it on the other.  We also letterbox around where we live and on any other type of trip we take.

Chic in park we found

So back to what it is…  Letterboxes are weatherproof containers which hold a rubber stamp (preferably hand-carved) and a log book.  They may include ink or possibly another item, but the stamp and logbook are the only essentials.  The stamp may be carved to reflect the location of the box (scenery of the area, local animal, whatever) or just be anything.  The box is hidden, and clues are posted on the Internet for finding it.  (Major websites for this are here and here.) The clues can be incredibly cryptic or quite straight-forward.  The person who makes the box is called the “planter.”  My family has never planted any boxes, but we have all kinds of places in our minds that we would like to do it.  We just have been too lazy a little to get the carving materials a little hesitant about carving the stamps.

Letterboxing is somewhat similar to geocaching, but my family does not geocache.  Although I like the idea of the GPS locations, I like the way letterboxing finds are recorded (with hand-carved stamps). 

My family finds the planted letterboxes.  Whenever we have a weekend we can devote to it or are ready to travel, Prince Charming finds all (or a lot) of the relevant letterboxes in the area.  He prints the clues, and we go in search of the boxes.  We take with us our own logbooks, ink, cleaning supplies, a compass and our own personal stamps.  Personal stamps can be whatever one wants.  The best ones are hand-carved.  Mine is something I drew, but I had the stamp made because I knew I did not have the skills to carve anything like I would want. When we find a box, we stamp the box’s stamp in our personal logbooks and record date and other relevant information, and we stamp our personal stamps in the box’s logbook.  This way the box has a record of our being there, and we have our own record of the places we have been.  We then clean all the stamps, carefully re-hide the box, and move on to the next one.

So why do we love this so much?  First, it is just the whole concept.  I love rubber stamps; they are my business.  I love being outside.  The combination is perfect.  And who does not love having clues to find a treasure?

Cave at Tent Rocks

Cave at Tent Rocks

We also love it because our entire family does it together and enjoys every aspect of it.  We found our first letterbox when Chic was 5 and Chicklet was 2-1/2.  They think it is fun and ask when we are going if it has been a while since our last letterboxing excursion. 

Our log books are “pretty.”  They are not pretty because things are neatly recorded (they are not), but because they are filled with art.  Many letterboxers are amazing artists.  (Many are not, so it is not something about which to be intimidated.)  The different stamps in different colors are just pretty.  And each one has a hike (very short to long) and memory attached.  Logbooks are compact souvenirs that are priceless to me.

Subdivision trail near CO Springs

Subdivision trail near CO Springs

The thing I think we love most about letterboxing is the places we have been and the things we have seen that we would not have without letterboxing.  We have found parks and hiking trails near our neighborhood that we would have never found without hunting for a letterbox.  (And the hunt is the key.  I would say we find 2 out of 3 that we search for.  But the missing 1 is still a hike and still something new.)

Above and below are a just a few of things things that made it onto film that we would never have experienced without this hobby. (Most pictures will enlarge if clicked.)  The first picture is a nature preserve in Colorado.  There we saw many birds and had a fun hike.  (And got lots of mosquito bites!)  The second picture is a park that is inside a cul de sac in a neighborhood near out development.  The girls LOVED this place.  The third is a Tent Rocks National Monument.  We actually go there once or twice a year to hike, but we had never been on the trail for this cave until we were hunting for a letterbox.  The next picture is from a series of incredible hiking/biking trails that run through a development near Colorado Springs.  It was the most elaborate subdivision/development trail system I have ever seen.  What a treat for those who live near it!  And apparently the rodent population is well-fed there as well!

The next picture is a hilltop in Estes Park, CO.  In the spring it is covered with elk mothers and babies.  It was a short, fun trail, and we loved these ruins.

hilltop in Estes Park

hilltop in Estes Park

The hotel that  inspired the book (later a movie), The Shining, by Stephen King is also in Estes Park. We got this picture of it while searching for a letterbox.

The Shining Hotel

The Shining Hotel

Next has to be one of my favorite letterboxing finds.  We were led through an old cemetary with clues on the gravestones.  This group of stones was for the children in a family who died within weeks of each other.  How utterly horrible, but I know it used to happen all the time.  I loved these stones.  They made me feel like the parents realized how special their children were.

The Torkelsons

The Torkelsons

When Prince Charming and I went to Bermuda last spring, we spent two days letterboxing.  One of the locations was at an old fort (Bermuda is covered with them).  The beautiful ocean views are a dime a dozen in Bermuda (and worth more than every dime!), but the forts added interest to the trip and the scenery.

Bermuda sea through gunport

Also in Bermuda there were lots of feral chickens, but we would have never seen them had we not gotten off the beaten path to go letterboxing.  Besides this very proud rooster, we saw many hens with chicks.

When I travel to a specific area of the United States (as a National Park) or a foreign country, I have two main souvenirs:  A book about the region with lots of excellent photography and a book about regional flowers.  When searching for said regional books, we saw pictures of a Bermuda Longtail (Phaethon lepturus catesbyi).  We never saw one in real life, however, until we went on a hunt for a letterbox. If you do not enlarge any other photo, please enlarge this one.  I believe it is worth it!

Bermuda Longtail

Bermuda Longtail

My last picture is from our letterboxing trip on Labor Day.  There is a nature park/animal refuge about an hour from our home.  We never heard of it until we found it housed letterboxes.  We had a terrific time there, and I loved being so close to the animals.  All their animals are in captivity due to injury or some other reason that makes them unable to survive in the wild.  I cannot remember which hawk this was, but it was enormous, and I especially loved its eyes.  They look intelligent.  Many small birds do not have intelligent eyes, but the large birds of prey definitely do.  I have never before been able to be that close to such a bird.

hawk at Wildlife West Nature Park

hawk at Wildlife West Nature Park

And finally, I love letterboxing because it is something Prince Charming and I can do even when we are old.  We may not be able to climb some of the paths we do now, but there will be plenty of things to find, plenty of places to go and plenty of adventures to be had.  Letterboxes are all over the United States and in many other countries.  If it is not in your country, get it started!  It catches on quickly.  And if I visit your country and you have a box there, you can bet I will be looking for it!

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

On Monday (Labor Day Holiday for the U.S.) our family went letterboxing. It took us to a nature park less than an hour from our house of which we had never even heard. (That is something we love most about letterboxing.) It was on “the other side of the mountain” which has a different climate than “our” side. It gets more rain, has more trees and green grasses. It was a beautiful day that was not hot, and there was plenty to see. The clouds were interesting because it has been overcast and rainy the entire day before (unusual), and it was all clearing out.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.

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